An assault is the act of physically attacking or threatening to attack another human being. Assaults can be carried out with or without a weapon – any attack meant to hurt, main or potentially kill another person is an assault in the state of New Jersey. If the offender attacks his or her victim with the intention of causing lasting, serious damage, the crime may be considered an aggravated assault. If this is not the case and the bodily harm rendered is not serious, the attack is labeled a simple assault.
In New Jersey, a simple assault is a disorderly persons offense. This charge is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 states that a simple assault is considered as such if it meets one of the following characteristics:
- The attackerattempts or succeeds in, whether purposely or due to recklessness,bodily harm to another person.
- The victim suffersinjury from a weapon due to the defendant’s negligence.
- The offender triesto threaten or intimidate the victim with serious bodily harm.
Often, small-scale fights are categorized as simple assault. Unless the it involves a weapon or serious injury, the average street fight or bar scuffle is considered a simple assault.
Aggravated assault is a much more serious charge. An assault is considered “aggravated” if it causes more permanent physical damage or is directed at victims who are part of a few specific categories. N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b) outlines the acts that constitute aggravated assault in New Jersey.
If a potentially deadly weapon is used recklessly and causes physical harm to a victim, or if the offender points a firearm, whether its loaded or not, at another person, the offense is classified as a fourth degree aggravated assault. This crime is punishable by up to eighteen months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the offender tries to cause physical harm to another person with or without a weapon, causes significant harm with a weapon due to carelessness or negligence, intentionally displays a firearm to a police officer or otherwise shows no regard for the safety and well being of others, he or she is charged with a third degree aggravated assault. This and other third degree crimes are punishable by a jail sentence of three to five years and fines of up to $15,000.
The most serious aggravated assault charge, a second degree aggravated assault, must meet the following criteria:
- Any assault whereserious injury is intentionally caused to the victim
- Any attempt tocause serious injury to another person
- Any assault thatcauses injury and is committed while eluding police
- Any fire orexplosion that is caused with the intention of physically harminganother human being.
Second degree crimes come with the penalty of five to ten years in jail with the presumption of incarceration. The presumption of incarceration means that a jail sentence is mandatory if the defendant is found guilty. Second degree crimes also require that the defendant pay a fine of up to $150,000.
The final category of aggravated assault is victim-specific aggravated assault. If a simple assault is committed against a police officer, judge, emergency medical employee, firefighter or school official, it is automatically elevated to the level of fourth degree aggravated assault. If a simple assault against one of the previously mentioned categories results in bodily harm, it is considered a third degree aggravated assault.
If you have been charged with assault or aggravated assault, make sure you have a knowledgeable, experienced lawyer to represent your case. Ron Bar-Nadav has an extensive knowledge of New Jersey criminal law and a successful history of cases won. If you want the best in criminal representation in Bergen County, call 201-525-1555 to speak with Ron Bar-Nadav and find out about your options. Your choice of lawyer is the most important decision you’ll make during the lawsuit process.